Just like wine. Meet the very first yerba mate sommelier!

Just like wine. Meet the very first yerba mate sommelier!

A sommelier is an advisor specialized in selection, serving and tasting of wine. It turns out that in the world of mate tea we can also find similar experts. One of the pioneers of yerba mate sommelier is Valeria Trapaga from Argentina. What’s her job like? Read on and find out!

Occupation: yerba mate sommelier

From the beginning of her professional career, Valeria Trapaga has been associated with the tourism and hotel industry. At one of the stages of her career, she worked as a sommelier. Although wine was her area of interest, she was once asked to do a sensory analysis (quality assessment) of yerba mate. Valeria concluded that this was a very interesting niche, yet practically no one was involved in it. So she decided to combine the experience of a sommelier with the knowledge of yerba mate that she had been familiar with since she was a child. And although, as is often the case, the beginnings were not easy, today she is a real mate tea expert. She has collaborated with renowned brands such as Taragüi, gives lectures and even published a book on yerba mate.

Valeria Trapaga during one of her TED lectures (spanish only)

How to choose and prepare the perfect yerba mate? A few tips from a specialist.

According to Valeria, professional yerba mate quality assessment consists of four steps. Each corresponds to one of the senses used to examine it. During her lectures, the sommelier introduces the audience to the nuances they should pay attention to when choosing a mate tea. It turns out that by analyzing the structure, color, aroma and taste of mate, many conclusions can be drawn about the freshness, time and seasoning technique of the raw material, as well as the nutritional value of the infusion prepared on its basis. According to Valeria, the most common mistake at this stage is to use too hot water. The optimal temperature will be 75-80 degrees Celsius. According to her, the choice of the vessel is also of no less importance. These should be made of wood, glass or ceramics. Most importantly, it shouldn't be made of plastic! Plastics, even the most durable ones, can leave an unnatural and unpleasant aftertaste.

However, before we start brewing, it will be necessary to thoroughly mix the tea. Preferably by shaking the packaging. Only then can it be poured into the vessel. It is necessary to slightly moisten it and place the bombilla there. After adding more water, the brew will be ready. It is worth doing it carefully and when pouring it for the first time, moisten no more than half of the mate inside. In this way, we will obtain an infusion of optimal values, which will maintain its noble taste for much longer. It is worth adding that the sommelier absolutely advises against adding sugar to it. In her opinion, this is detrimental not only to the taste, but also to the valuable properties of yerba mate.

Are you interested in the topic and want to learn more about Valeria's work and tips? Be sure to check out her Instagram @catadeyerbamate or her official website at

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